Thursday, March 4, 2021

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Ki Sissa

The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts on the parsha that R' Frand spoke about in his shiur tonight. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

In Shemos 33:7, the Torah states וּמשֶׁה֩ יִקַּ֨ח אֶת־הָאֹ֜הֶל וְנָֽטָה־ל֣וֹ | מִח֣וּץ לַמַּֽחֲנֶ֗ה הַרְחֵק֙ מִן־הַמַּֽחֲנֶ֔ה וְקָ֥רָא ל֖וֹ אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד וְהָיָה֙ כָּל־מְבַקֵּ֣שׁ יְהֹוָ֔ה יֵצֵא֙ אֶל־אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֔ד אֲשֶׁ֖ר מִח֥וּץ לַמַּֽחֲנֶֽה  - that Moshe took the Ohel Moed and pitched it outside the encampment and called it the Ohel Moed and it was whomever wanted to seek out Hashem would go out to the Ohel Moed that was outside the encampment.

The Targum Yonasan Ben Uziel said that the words כָּל־מְבַקֵּ֣שׁ יְהֹוָ֔ה  refer to those people who needed to do Teshuva for the Egel.

R' Frand quoted R' Tzadok HaCohen M'Lublin who mentioned the concept of Teshuvas HaMishkal. The people at Har Sinai knew the entire Torah and thought that they did not need a leader like Moshe. Instead they fashioned the Egel which was not a manhig because they did not think they needed a Rav. In order to do Teshuva for their actions, they needed to make the effort to leave the camp to find Moshe at the Ohel Moed.

This is why afterwards everyone was afraid of the shining countenance of Moshe Rabbeinu, because you need a Rav that instills fear and awe in others.

R' Frand then quoted the Sefer Be'arah Shel Torah which mentioned a letter that R' Hutner had written to a community which had chosen a great Rabbi to be their Rav. He wrote that cities have a city clock which sits atop of a high tower and everyone looks up to the clock to set their watches. This was not done merely so that it would be visible to all. Rather, if the clock was lower down, people could reset the city clock if they felt their watches were correct. 

So too said R' Hutner, there are cities where people want their Rav to follow the kehilla's dictates instead of his own view. Therefore this city should be congratulated for choosing a great man who they will look up to.

R' Frand closed this part of the vort by quoting the Meiri on Pirkei Avos, who explains that Aseh L'cha Rav means that even if a person is already a great Rav and perhaps even a greater Talmid Chacham then the Rav of the shul, it is still important to have a Rav for the community and to look up to him.

R' Frand said a second vort on the pasuk in Shemos 34:3 - וְאִישׁ֙ לֹא־יַֽעֲלֶ֣ה עִמָּ֔ךְ - that when Moshe went to get the second luchos there was not the same fireworks and ceremony as when he received the first luchos as no one went up with him.

Rashi explains that when the first luchos were received, there were great sounds and celebration, but it created an ayin hara which culminated with the breaking of the luchos. However the second luchos were received without the same ceremony and these luchos remained intact, because there is no greater middah than tznius.

R' Frand told a story about R' Meir Shapiro and his Yeshivas Chacmei Lublin. When the building was going to be dedicated, R' Meir went to his Rebbi and asked whether he should make a large ceremony. His Rebbi said - no, this was the reason the first luchos were broken, because the ayin hara was sholet on them.

However R' Meir Shapiro disagreed. I will prove it to you - when Moshe broke the luchos there was a concept of shichka haTorah - people forgot their learning and if they had not been broken that would never have happened. Yet, Hashem still made a great ceremony because the greatness of the Torah required it. 

R' Meir Shapio continued - the yeshiva bochrim were looked down upon in the community and they needed a great ceremony for the dedication of the yeshiva so that their status would be elevated in the eyes of the community. R' Meir said that he accepted upon himself if there would be an ayin hara and they had 100,000 people at the ceremony.

R' Meir Shapiro passed away as a young man at the age of 38. At his funeral, R' Zalman Sorotskin said that he died because of ayin hara, but he accepted it upon himself, because the bnei yeshiva needed to be elevated. Much the way Hashem made the first luchos public, despite the fact that there would be an ayin hara, because the greatness of the Torah required it, so too said R' Sorotskin, R' Meir Shapiro made the great ceremony for the dedication of the yeshiva, because the yeshiva bochrim needed it.

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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Sunday Night Suds - Saranac Winter Warmer

 


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Saranac Brewery's Winter Warmer.

As mentioned in previous Sunday Night Suds - Saranac has continued to pump out new brews, including this year's 12 Beers of Winter mix box. includes new beers - Joy to Ale (reviewed here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2021/01/sunday-night-suds-saranac-joy-to-ale.html), Winter Warmer and the Permafrost IPA (reviewed here http://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2020/12/sunday-night-suds-saranac-permafrost-ipa.html), along with one of my all time Saranac favorites - the Big Moose Ale (reviewed here https://kosherbeers.blogspot.com/2009/11/sunday-night-suds-saranac-big-moose-ale.html).

Although this is the last of the new beers from the 12 Beers of Winter that I reviewed, I've been pairing and sampling this with various dishes over the last few weeks. The beer has an ale backbone with some hops, but the spices set this beer apart. Its versatility stands up to cholent, stir fry and other spicy beef dishes. But its also a good post dinner drink all by itself. There is not much in the way of citrus, but with this level of spice you would not expect it. Meanwhile the 5.8% abv seems to be a bit low on the estimate as there was a noticeable alcohol taste and seemed to pack more of a punch than a sub 6 beer should have.

The Winter Warmer is under the Kosher Supervision of the Va'ad of Detroit as is every other beer produced at the Matt Brewery plant in Utica, NY. Keep in mind, Saranac brews some varieties off site, so check the cans/bottles for kosher certification from the Va'ad of Detroit.

To see what the experts on Beer Advocate think about the brew, click you can search on  https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/99/515966/

As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer unless there is no designated driver.

If you've tried this beer or any others which have been reviewed on the kosher beers site, please feel free to post your comments (anonymous comments are acceptable).

Lastly, if you have seen this post being carried on another site, please feel free to click www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Motzei Shabbos Purim Vort (but not Purim Torah)

The following is a summary of a fascinating shiur that R' Mansour said last Thursday Night. Since its Shushan Purim somewhere, this is hopefully still timely, and if not, its still great Torah. Same ground rules as always apply. Its not a complete transcription, but the main concepts are here. Any perceived inconsistencies are the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Mansour.

In the fourth perek of Esther there is a dialogue between Mordechai and Esther wherein he asks her to go to Achasveros and ask for the Jews to be saved because of Haman's decree. He is quite urgent and insistent, even though the decree against the Jews was not going to be put into effect until eleven months later, in the month of Adar and the dialogue takes place in the month of Nissan. Esther agrees to go and asks that Mordechai order that the Jews fast for three days, even though it would mean there would be no Pesach Seder that year.

As part of this dialogue, Mordechai says כִּ֣י אִם־הַֽחֲרֵ֣שׁ תַּֽחֲרִ֘ישִׁי֘ בָּעֵ֣ת הַזֹּאת֒ רֶ֣וַח וְהַצָּלָ֞ה יַֽעֲמ֤וֹד לַיְּהוּדִים֙ מִמָּק֣וֹם אַחֵ֔ר וְאַ֥תְּ וּבֵֽית־אָבִ֖יךְ תֹּאבֵ֑דוּ וּמִ֣י יוֹדֵ֔עַ אִם־לְעֵ֣ת כָּזֹ֔את הִגַּ֖עַתְּ לַמַּלְכֽוּת . Many people focus on the end of the pasuk, but R' Mansour asked - what is it about Esther's father's family which will suffer a loss if she does not act?

R' Mansour by quoting the Alshich who links this to Esther's forefather Shaul and Haman's forefather Aggag. Shaul had been ordered to wipe out Amalek, but he left Aggag alive for one more night and he wound up fathering a child that night. And now, Esther was given an opprtunity to fix Shaul's mistake and if she did not, her and his lineage will be lost.

Rabbi Mansour then tied this into a pasuk from Shmuel which absolutely blew me away. The discussion of Shaul's failure to follow the decree is found in Shmuel I 15. In 15:28, the navi writes וַיֹּ֚אמֶר אֵלָיו֙ שְׁמוּאֵ֔ל קָרַ֨ע יְהֹוָ֜ה אֶֽת־מַמְלְכ֧וּת יִשְׂרָאֵ֛ל מֵעָלֶ֖יךָ הַיּ֑וֹם וּנְתָנָ֕הּ לְרֵעֲךָ֖ הַטּ֥וֹב מִמֶּֽךָּ . Shmuel tells Shaul that the kingdom will be taken from you and be given to a friend who is better than you.

The language is familiar to anyone who read Esther as Memuchan tells Achasveros in Esther 1:19 - אִם־עַל־הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ ט֗וֹב יֵצֵ֤א דְבַר־מַלְכוּת֙ מִלְּפָנָ֔יו וְיִכָּתֵ֛ב בְּדָתֵ֥י פָֽרַס־וּמָדַ֖י וְלֹ֣א יַֽעֲב֑וֹר אֲשֶׁ֨ר לֹֽא־תָב֜וֹא וַשְׁתִּ֗י לִפְנֵי֙ הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ אֲחַשְׁוֵר֔וֹשׁ וּמַלְכוּתָהּ֙ יִתֵּ֣ן הַמֶּ֔לֶךְ לִרְעוּתָ֖הּ הַטּוֹבָ֥ה מִמֶּֽנָּה . This is an unwitting prediction that the role of Queen will be given to a friend who is better than her.

R' Mansour also noted that the reason for Mordechai's urging of Esther to act is also to fix the mistake of Moshe and counteract Amalek. In Parshas Beshalach when Moshe appoints Yehoshua to lead the Jews into battle against Amalek the Torah tells us that Moshe's arms grew weak. But why could he not keep his arms up? The Targum Yonatan Ben Uziel explains that Moshe was punished because he delayed and said to wait another day before going to war.

R' Mansour quoted the Sar Shalom M'Belz on Parshas Yisro who explained an odd Rashi. Rashi explains that Yisro came to convert because he heard of Krias Yam Suf and the Battle with Amalek. But this is what the Torah tells us already that Yisro came because he heard all that Hashem had done in taking the Jews out of Egypt! So what is Rashi teaching us? That when Amalek came it was Vayavo - this is coming in haste, when the rest of the world wanted to slow down and look at all that was done for the Jewish people. Amalek says - if we sit an look at us, then we wont come and fight. Rashi is explaining that Yisro came with the same alacrity - I heard that Amalek came in haste right after the Jews left Egypt, so I too will come in haste to convert to Judaism.

R' Mansour noted that this middah of haste for Amalek comes from Esav who was running and trying to leave the womb when Rivka passed by a house of idol worship. 

R' Mansour then quoted R' Friedman who noted that Amalek attacked when we were tired וְאַתָּ֖ה עָיֵ֣ף וְיָגֵ֑עַ (Devarim 25:18) - because Amalek jumps when we delay acting to do mitzvos. And when Shaul delayed killing Aggag, it allowed Amalek again to procreate and led to the downfall of Shaul.

This brings us to Esther and her discussion with Mordechai. She tries to convince Mordechai that she should not go immediately to Achasveros. But Mordechai understood, we need to act swiftly to fix the sins of the past.

R' Mansour then noted that Haman picked his lottery date to wipe out the Jews and sends his letters. He then tells his wife about how he hates Mordechai and she tells him to make a tree to kill him. But he does not wait to tell Achasveros about his plan, he goes in the middle of the night (Esther 6:6) - וַיָּבוֹא֘ הָמָן֒. And the only reason that Haman shows up is because he had previously been at the first party that Esther made and when he left he saw Mordechai. But if Esther does not make that first party on Pesach, Mordechai is not mentioned to the king and if Haman shows up before that, there is no person mentioning to Achasveros that Mordechai had saved his life.

In this we see that Esther came and fixed the sins of the past by being quick to counteract Haman, the latest iteration of Amalek.

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Thursday, February 18, 2021

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshas Terumah

The following is a brief summary of some of thoughts on the parsha that R' Frand spoke about in his shiur which was previously recorded due to the weather. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

The parsha begins with the command to Moshe to ask the Jews to donate for the building of the Mishkan as the Torah states in Shemos 25:2 - דַּבֵּר֙ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וְיִקְחוּ־לִ֖י תְּרוּמָ֑ה מֵאֵ֤ת כָּל־אִישׁ֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִדְּבֶ֣נּוּ לִבּ֔וֹ תִּקְח֖וּ אֶת־תְּרֽוּמָתִֽי.

Rabbi Frand quoted the Medrash Tanchum and the Yerushalmi in Terumos which state that the gifts which were accepted for the Mishkan could only be accepted from gedolim and not from children. The reason for this rule is based on a Gemara in Gittin which states that a child can receive as someone else gives it to him. However, a child cannot give something away as he does not have the da'as to do so. 

R' Frand then made reference to the age old problem of giving a lulav and esrog to a child on the first day of Sukkos as they cannot give it back from a halachic perspective. (R' Frand then told a personal story that when he was growing up he did not have his first lulav and esrog until he was married. Prior to that point the people contributed and utilized communal lulavim and esrogim).

R' Frand then quoted the Alter Tolner Rebbi who explained that this is more than halachic, its an indicia of being mature. Children are used to receiving and there is a reason for the expression "taking candy from a baby" because its hard for children to give. When person is mature he wants to and is used to giving to others. And if the grown up cannot give, its a personality flaw. R' Frand also quoted R' Dessler who said that there are two types of people - givers and takers. What distinguishes a gadol from a katan is that you give. And if you can't give then you are a katan, regardless of your physical age.

R' Frand also noted the parsha mentioned the Kruvim from which English derives the word "cherubic" meaning child like. However, the Torah mentions Kruvim elsewhere in Parshas Bereishis as the Kruvim there held swords to prevent re-entry to Gan Eden. So what are the Kruvim? Are they scary soldiers or child like? 

R' Frand said that he remembered that R' Shalom Rifkin Ztl who was the Rav in Seattle said this vort at his bar mitzvah and that the vort was also said by R' Moshe Mordechai Epstein from Slabodka. The difference is where do you put the Kruv? If it is in the Mishkan, it is a positive, but if you put a sword in its hands, its negative. It all depends on the environment that you put the child in.

R' Frand then told a story about a man who went to visit the Chafetz Chaim and he was thrown out without the Chafetz Chaim even looking at him. He went back in to the Chafetz Chaim and he asked - Rebbi, what did I do wrong? The Chafetz Chaim responded - because you are responsible for 3 million Jews being slaughtered and being taken away from Judaism. He asked - what are you talking about, I don't know 3,000 Jews. The Chafetz Chaim said - you were the head of a school and you threw out that kid because he was a wild kid. That kid was Leibel Trotsky ... who went on to become Leon Trotsky, a leader of the Bolshevik Revolution. Yes, he was a problem, but by throwing him out of the yeshiva environment you created a Leon Trotsky and are responsible for the millions of Jews who were exiled to Siberia.

R' Frand then told a story about Yeshivat Porat Yosef and its Rosh Yeshiva R' Yehuda Tzedakah. There was a boy who was a real troublemaker and they came to R' Yehuda and said  - we need to throw him out. R' Yehuda said that we need to daven and the entire administration went to the Kotel to daven for him. The boy heard about this and was so taken by their davening for him that he went back on the derech.

R' Frand said that the lesson is that you need to think long and hard about sending someone out of yeshiva and that you need to look for another place for him, rather than just sending him away.

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Sunday, February 14, 2021

Sunday Night Suds - Samuel Adams Alpine Lager


This week's Sunday Night Suds looks at Samuel Adams Alpine Lager.

It seems to you like Samuel Adams has not been producing many new beers recently, you are not alone. From my unscientific review (i,e, from what I see in the beer stores in Long Island) it seems like Samuel Adams has been repackaging old beers with updated labels, but not introducing new beers. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as the Samuel Adams standard beers are quite good. But if you are looking to try new beers, you generally need to look elsewhere.

Having said that, when I was in Total Wine in Westbury the other week, I did notice that this winter's Gameday Beers Variety Pack did indicate that the Alpine Lager was new, and since Total allows you to buy singles, I picked up one of these during my trip.

The Alpine Lager poured a cloudier orange than I was expecting and the beer was also somewhat less bready than the average lager. The resulting unfiltered lager had a crisp flavor to it, almost approaching a lemon kind of citrus and it was quite enjoyable. At 5.5% abv the beer is slightly above average for a lager, but the alcohol taste was not present and if I had more than one I don't know that I would have felt it.

The Alpine Lager is under the Kosher Supervision of the Star-K and has a Star-K certification mark on the label. The experts on Beer Advocate think this beer is the same as the Alpine Lager of old (reviewed here beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/35/76571) but I don't think its the same brew.

As always, please remember to drink responsibly and to never waste good beer unless there is no designated driver.

If you've tried this beer or any others which have been reviewed on the kosher beers site, please feel free to post your comments (anonymous comments are acceptable).

Lastly, if you have seen this post being carried on another site, please feel free to click www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Motzei Shabbos Melave Malka - Mishpatim + Purim Vort

On Friday I heard a great vort from R' Shraga Kallus on Torah Anytime in a shiur entitled - "What in the world was Achasverus Thinking" which I wanted to briefly summarize in a pre-Shabbos post. Same ground rules as always apply. Any perceived inconsistencies are the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Kallus.

I like listening to R' Kallus shiurim because he has such a great sense of humor and there is always a story and this shiur was no different. If you want to hear or watch it yourself click here - (https://www.torahanytime.com/#/lectures?v=140853) .

R' Kallus started the vort by quoting the pasuk in Shemos 23:25 - וַֽעֲבַדְתֶּ֗ם אֵ֚ת יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֔ם וּבֵרַ֥ךְ אֶת־לַחְמְךָ֖ וְאֶת־מֵימֶ֑יךָ וַֽהֲסִֽרֹתִ֥י מַֽחֲלָ֖ה מִקִּרְבֶּֽךָ - you shall worship Hashem your G-d and he will bless your bread and your water and I will remove the plague from amongst you.

The pasuk was a jumping off point for a story about R' Shrira Gaon involving a man who had passed away and left a Sefer Torah which was written by Ezra HaSofer and a great deal of wealth. The man left two sons and each was willing to give up the wealth if he got the Torah. R' Shrira Gaon held a lottery and one of the sons got the Torah. 

There was a heretic in the town who was upset that each of the brothers was willing to give up the wealth for the Torah. The heretic crept into the shul in the middle of the night and changed the word in the pasuk from וַֽעֲבַדְתֶּ֗ם to substitute an Aleph with the word meaning and "you should wipe out". The people were upset and R' Shira Gaon fasted and then had a dream where Ezra came to him and said to him - the heretic did this. R' Shira Gaon said - how do I prove this? Ezra said - tomorrow you will give a shiur and say that you know who it was and then you will identify the heretic and his eye will fall out -עַ֚יִן תַּ֣חַת עַ֔יִן. And that is exactly what happened.

R' Shrira Gaon then said that he now understood the pshat in the Megillah. Esther tells Achasveros in Esther 7:4 -  וְ֠אִלּ֠וּ לַֽעֲבָדִ֨ים וְלִשְׁפָח֤וֹת נִמְכַּ֨רְנוּ֙ הֶֽחֱרַ֔שְׁתִּי - if we would only have been sold as slaves, I would have kept my mouth shut. Achasveros then responds -  מִ֣י ה֥וּא זֶה֙ וְאֵי־זֶ֣ה ה֔וּא אֲשֶׁר־מְלָא֥וֹ לִבּ֖וֹ לַֽעֲשׂ֥וֹת כֵּֽן - who is this who wanted to do this?

But why would he ask that question? And why does Esther say that if they had only been sold as slaves, I would have kept my mouth shut?

R' Shira Gaon then explained - Haman had told Achasveros that he wanted to enslave the Jews וַֽעֲבַדְתֶּ֗ם and he was OK with that and signed off on the decree. But then Haman changed the scroll to say that they would be wiped out - changing the Ayin to an Alef. When Esther brought this to Achasveros' attention he said - I never signed off on killing a nation - who is this that wanted to do it?

If you have seen this post being carried on another site, please feel free to click www.kosherbeers.blogspot.com to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up